Fantasy Impact of NFL Draft 2018
Ever since moving off Broadway in 2015, the NFL continues to raise the bar each year with a highly produced, high quality event in it’s annual NFL Draft. Cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and most recently Dallas have gotten to experience the excitement and tourism impact of hosting such a significant event. The events of the three days are very entertaining, combining die-hard, hometown fans with celebrity appearances and franchise changing draft selections.
When you think of franchise changing draft selections, you often think of the skill players. They are the ones who rack up the yards and dance in the end zone. Today’s NFL offenses are more dynamic and versatile than at any point in the history of the game. Young players can have an immediate impact and make a big splash in this league, and the NFL Draft Class of 2018 includes many fantastic playmakers that will be fantasy favorites for many years to come.
The Quarterbacks – The value of the QB in fantasy football is somewhat low unless you’re in a dynasty league or a high-scoring two QB league (highly recommended format), and although the NFL Draft Class of 2018 included five taken in the first round, the fantasy upside is not great. The best chances for big numbers and fantasy stardom are these two young studs.
Arizona Cardinals – Josh Rosen (Round 1, Pick 10)
This could be a great fit for Josh Rosen’s skill set as Arizona is a team that is known for stretching the field and playing aggressive. Most expect that Sam Bradford will be the starter and Josh Rosen may get his chance at some point due to Bradford’s durability issues, but don’t be surprised to see Rosen win this starting job in training camp and find chemistry with his fellow rookie, Wide Receiver Christian Kirk. The return of David Johnson will take pressure off the passing game and keep secondaries playing honest; Josh Rosen has the arm to make every thrown on the field and as he said on Draft Night, he’s competing for Super Bowls.
Cleveland Browns – Baker Mayfield (Round 1, Pick 1)
Watching the lead up to the first pick of the NFL Draft many came to love the charismatic Baker Mayfield who charmed without being present at the event. Everything points to winning with this young man and the Cleveland Browns are certainly ready for new leadership. Mayfield is a dynamic playmaker both in and out of the pocket, and with a new set of offensive weapons (Jarvis Landry, Carlos Hyde and 2nd year receiving TE David Njoku), Baker Mayfield could have a huge season statistically.
The Running Backs – Fantasy owners don’t want to hear about running back by committee, they want someone who can tote the rock all game long, all season long, all the way to a fantasy football championship a la Todd Gurley in 2017. Watch out for these guys to be dangerous in their offenses this season.
Denver Broncos – Royce Freeman (Round 3, Pick 7)
This is a system play for the Broncos as Royce Freeman comes out of an Oregon Duck football program that has him built to succeed in Broncos run offense.
New England Patriots – Sony Michel (Round 1, Pick 31)
We know how fantasy owners despise Patriots running backs but this one may be worth a look in 2018. If he can carry the load, Belicheck will give him the touches.
New York Giants – Saquan Barkley (Round 1, Pick 2)
This looks like a home run for Saquan and the Giants as they have been desperate for a featured back to balance out the Eli air show (and turnover machine). Look for Saquan to get touches in the running and passing game with a chance to put up some gaudy numbers in his rookie campaign.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Ronald Jones (Round 2, Pick 6)
The Vegas pros are excited about Tampa Bay as an offense so it’s only natural to look at their newest workhorse running back Ronald Jones.
Washington Redskins – Derrius Guice (Round 2, Pick 27)
Character issues may have been behind the late drop of Derrius Guice’s draft stock but he found a happy home in Washington with a chance to benefit from Alex Smith’s well-balanced offense that moves the chains and features the RB both on the ground and in the air.
The Wide Receivers – There are always a few rookie receivers that fantasy owners end up in love with and most often, it’s about how they fit with their team and offense more so than their combine draft rankings. Here are some notable picks that have a chance to break through with a great opportunity in their offenses.
Arizona Cardinals – Christian Kirk (Round 2, Pick 15)
This guy could be the catalyst that brings the Cardinals passing game back into the ranks of the most explosive in the league. Christian Kirk is a route runner and a playmaker.
Atlanta Falcons – Calvin Ridley (Round 1, Pick 26)
A rookie wide receiver can’t ask for much more than to play indoors in Atlanta with Matt Ryan and along side Julio Jones. If this offense can find it’s stride, there should be enough balls to go around among a talented lineup of skill players, but if Julio is ever nagged by injuries then Calvin Ridley would be they one to step into that role.
Buffalo Bills – Ray Ray Mccloud (Round 6, Pick 13)
Fantasy owners haven’t seen much production out of Buffalo Bills receivers in recent years but things are different with a pro-style QB at the helm. Josh Allen and the Bills offense will certainly rely on Shady McCoy to keep the chains moving and keep defenses honest, but there is a huge opportunity for a wide receiver to step up and hopes are high the Ray Ray Mccloud can become Buffalo’s JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Dallas Cowboys – Michael Gallup (Round 3, Pick 17)
How bout them Cowboys! This team is built to win now and they are going to give rookie Michael Gallup every opportunity to be the #1 Wide Receiver, a role that would round out a quality trio of young skill players along with Dak Prescott and Zeke.
Pittsburgh Steelers – James Washington (Round 2, Pick 28)
We’re counting on the Steeler’s offense to be very high-scoring if we’re promoting a fantasy play on a 3rd receiver (optimistically), but James Washington out of Oklahoma State is something special and with the dealing of Martavis Bryant and drafting of Washington, you have to think that this rookie will play a role in a high-octane pass attack.
San Francisco 49ers – Dante Pettis (Round 2, Pick 12)
Welcome to San Francisco Dante Pettis, have you heard of Jimmy G?!! Fantasy owners want Pettis on their roster as the WR1 spot in San Francisco, which could be a very lucrative role statistically. Even in a balanced offense Dante Pettis should see upwards of 10 targets per game and some long touchdowns.
Washington Redskins – Simmie Cobbs Jr. (UDA)
This is our favorite undrafted free agent, Simmie Cobbs Jr. is a big target who plays even bigger. It’s a fresh start for the Redskins offense and Alex Smith will be looking for his go-to guy and this young man could step into a big role on an offense that knows how to move the chains and score touchdowns.
The Tight Ends – Some higher drafted not in great spots, behind solid starters like Dallas Goedert in Philly, Ian Thomas in Carolina and Dalton Schultz in Dallas. Baltimore drafted two Tight Ends, Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews, but not many fantasy owners have shown interest in any Ravens players in recent years, let alone a Tight End. Here are the guys that may be in a position to get targets throughout the season and in the red zone.
Houston Texans – Jordan Akins (Round 3, Pick 34) & Jordan Thomas (R6, P37)
Fantasy fans are excited about the Texans offense and the return of Deshaun Watson and drafting two Tight Ends was a statement about what they may be doing on offense this year. Watson can make one of these young guys a star if they’re on the same page.
Miami Dolphins – Mike Gesicki (Round 2, Pick 10)
Everyone loves Mike Gesicki and he’s going to love Miami. With the departure of Jarvis Landry there are a lot of touches to be had. Combine that with a QB who needs a reliable, relief valve and Gesicki could be the go-to guy in the Dolphins offense.
Seattle Seahawks – Will Dissly (Round 4, Pick 20)
If you don’t know about this guy you’re not alone, but he certainly made a name for himself up in the Northwest and the Seattle Seahawks are hopeful that they may have found the next Rob Gronkowski. You got to love a Tight End that wears the number 98, and even though that won’t be allowed in the NFL we’re sure Russel Wilson will still know how to find him!
As we approach fantasy football draft season we remember how valuable the late rounds picks can be and this year’s class of NFL Rookies is sure to have a few sleepers to give any fantasy team a boost towards total league domination, after all, that’s what fantasy football is all about.